Rockin’ Johnny Burgin review…March 22, 2018….

ROCKIN JOHNNY BURGIN

NEOPRENE FEDORA

WEST TONE RECORDS  WTR-1705

NEOPRENE FEDORA–GUITAR KING–WON’T GET MARRIED AGAIN–GIVE ME AN HOUR IN YOUR GARDEN–KINDA WILD WOMAN–PLEASE TELL ME–OUR TIME IS SHORT–(LET ME BE YOUR) TEDDY BEAR–SMOKE AND MIRRORS–I DID THE BEST I COULD–SELF MADE MAN–MY BABY’S GONE–YOU GOTTA WORK FAST–I AIN’T GONNA BE A WORKING MAN NO MORE–MY LIFE’S ENOUGH FOR ME–GOODBYE CHICAGO

It is unbelievable that it has been TWENTY years since we first heard Rockin’ Johnny Burgin, with his 1998 Delmark release, “Straight Out Of Chicago.”  He is a proven guitar slinger that has played with just about all the Windy City legends, as well as being a bandleader in his own right.  But, the time has come to make a change, and Johnny has traded in Chicago winters for the sun, sand, and surf of the West Coast.  He’s literally taking “that California trip,” this time for good.  And, we all know that from Chicago to L. A. is more than two thousand miles all the way, and his latest album, “Neoprene Fedora,” is a microcosm of sorts of that trip, and there’s a carload of special guests along for the ride.  The whole thing was laid down in San Jose at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios, and he’s on guitar, piano, and bass on various cuts.

The set begins with the instrumental title cut, a dazzling seven minutes of Johnny paying tribute to Chuck, Link Wray, Dick Dale, and everybody in between.  Johnny is sho’ nuff a “Guitar King, playing the blues everywhere I go,” with Aki Kumar on the harp.  Elvin Bishop’s squeeze box man, Steve Willis, shows his stuff on three zydeco-flavored cuts with Johnny on lead vocal, “Kinda Wild Woman,” “Please Tell Me,” and “Our Time Is Short,” while Alabama Mike rocks the mic on the Wes Cide funk of “Smoke And Mirrors,” and again on Johnny’s soulful original, “I Did The Best I Could.”

Harp man Aki Kumar takes a couple of vocal turns, on “Self Made Man,” and on the traditional Chicago sound of “My Baby’s Gone,” with extra guitar from Johnny “Cat” Soubrand.

Every cut on this set is a winner, but you can’t beat the set-closer as a favorite.  Telling it like it is, Johnny bids a fond farewell to the Windy City in Howlin’ Wolf style, as he name-checks the many legends he has backed, set over Aki’s harp and Nancy Wright’s sax, in the bittersweet “Goodbye Chicago.”

Folks, Rockin’ Johnny Burgin has taken the blues of his youth in Chi-Town and successfully transplanted them out west, by answering the Cali Siren’s call.  Put on your “Neoprene Fedora” for some of the best in contemporary blues!  Johnny, we love you, man!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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